Top tips for finding motivation and balance in times of uncertainty
Written by Nicola Venditozzi, Student Counsellor, Student Life
The significant changes that have occurred over the past month have impacted on us, both collectively and individually. Recently, I saw a social media post that likened the impact to somewhere between dealing with a light drizzle and the devastating force of a hurricane. The analogy so vividly reminded me that individually, this situation is affecting us all differently. It also reminded me that understanding, compassion and flexibility are likely to be our most helpful guides as we navigate these unchartered waters.
Initially, we may have felt overwhelmed, a feeling that has perhaps started to subside. As we have engaged with remote teaching and learning, we may have embraced a new rhythm. Equally, as we continue working or studying from home, some of us might instead feel increasingly anxious, despairing or disengaged. These are all valid responses to the uncertainty we continue to face. So whilst we travel through this strange time together, what can we do to if we are facing a motivational crisis or struggling to strike a healthy balance at home?
Our motivation may be feeling at an all-time low. We might also believe we need to ‘feel’ a particular way to start doing something. It’s certainly true that work or study feels easier or more enjoyable when we feel energised and driven. But, reflect for a moment and most of us can probably think of a dreaded task and how we felt as we thought about doing it. Motivation doesn’t get us started when we feel bad. It is activated by doing rather than feeling or thinking.
Some tips to find your motivation:
- Write down the last thing you considered doing but haven’t yet started. How does your mind try to talk you out of it? Ask yourself, “If I go along with these thoughts, does this make the task easier or harder?”
- Acknowledge that the situation is hard, show yourself some compassion and plan a start time today.
- Plan short “sprints” or bursts of effort followed by something you enjoy to recognise your efforts.
The separation many of us have between work or study and relaxation often relates to time and place. Both of these domains have changed for many people in the past month. The added complexities of caring for family members, staying connected across the world and reduced structure around our time may have skewed our sense of balance in many ways.
Without some balance, we might feel ‘burnt out’ at one extreme to lost or adrift at the other. There is no perfect balance but there are a few principles or tips to consider that might help us establish a structure that suits our needs.
Some tips for finding balance:
- Choose a few key areas that make up your balance – maybe it’s connecting with friends, exercising or revisiting an interest you often don’t have time for. Try making windows of time during the day and write them into your schedule.
- Set fewer goals – Our minds have a “negativity bias” so we often focus on what we haven’t done, particularly if we have constructed a long list of tasks. By setting fewer goals for the day, completing them increases the chance of feeling satisfied. If we have the time or energy, we might do something extra which then feels like a bonus.
- Separate work from play – it can be really helpful to have some markers, or a quick routine which helps us make the transition. For example, packing away or shutting down your computer, going for a quick walk or listening to a 5 minute mediation can mark the switch, much like a daily commute.
Looking for wellbeing resources?
To read more about motivation and balance, or tips on creating a daily routine, reducing isolation, dealing with uncertainty or boosting mood, please check out the Wellbeing Hub for more info.
If you are concerned about your mental wellbeing, please seek professional help. Staff members can access confidential support through the Employee Assistance Program. If you are a student, or would like to talk about a student you are worried about, please contact the Counselling Service for support.